This information was last updated: 17 April 2015
When can I complain?
You can complain to the UKBA about its poor service or the conduct of its staff or contractors. Poor service includes things such as delay and loss of documents. The conduct of it staff would include rudeness, physical or verbal abuse, being given the wrong information.
You can complain if you have witnessed misconduct too.
How do I complain?
If you have applied for a visa abroad then you will need to look at the website for the British post where you applied and follow the instructions. In all other cases, including if you are the UK sponsor for a visa applicant, you can complain by email or post to:-
UKBA Complaints Allocation Hub
You can have someone make a complaint on your behalf provided you provide them with written authorisation. If your complaint is serious or complex you may want to ask a solicitor to help you.
How long do I have to complain?
The UKBA will not normally investigate a complaint more than 3 months after the incident. This should not stop you making the complaint though and if the UKBA will not investigate you may be able to challenge that.
What should I put in my complaint?
You should set out briefly what happened and how it affected you. You should include copies of any evidence you have. Make sure you keep the originals for yourself. If your complaint is about a UKBA employee or contractor then you should identify them as best you can.
What happens after I complain?
The UKBA should respond within 20 working days. If your complaint raises misconduct they can take 12 weeks. If the complaint is very serious the UKBA will refer the complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
What if I am not happy with the outcome?
You can first ask the UKBA to review their decision and they should do so within 20 working days. If you are still not satisfied then you can ask your MP (or if you are a visa applicant your sponsor’s MP) to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
If you are detained and are not happy with how your complaint has been handled or the review then you can take the matter up with the Prison and Probation Ombudsman
Can the UKBA pay me compensation?
If the UKBA accepts it was at fault and you provide evidence of financial loss then they may offer you compensation. This could the cost of a loss passport. Do remember though that you will have lots more than the cost of the passport. You may have travel costs, have had to take time off work and should evidence of this.
Is a complaint always the best way?
Complaining is relatively straightforward and cheap. There may be times when you need to think about legal action. The UKBA may be taking too long to decide an application when you have an urgent need for a decision. You may have been or be detained or have been assaulted. In such cases a judicial review or civil claim may be more appropriate and our Public Law team can advise you about this.
You may want to complain when the UKBA refuses your application. You may have grounds to do so but make sure that you also appeal, seek a review or if you are told you cannot consider a judicial review. Our Immigration team are happy to advise.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Tel: 0345 015 4033
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
2 Monck Street
Telephone: 020 7035 2876 or lo-call 0845 010 7938
Fax: 020 7035 2860
The information provided in this How To: is general advice and information and Wilsons Solicitors LLP accepts no liability for its applicability to the facts of your individual circumstances.
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